Stocks rally again as new COVID-19 cases show signs of slowing

Kirsten Korosec and Alex Wilhelm

All major indices rose Wednesday, led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which increased 3.44% to close above 23,000 for the first time since March 13.

Investors seemed heartened by comments made by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, who said Wednesday that the U.S. death count from COVID-19 is lower than initially modeled. He warned that the death count will continue to climb even as new cases slow.

The action Wednesday followed rallies earlier this week. Still, it should be noted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average still closed below yesterday's high of 23,537.44, suggesting that this could be a bear market run.

Here's the breakdown at closing:

  • Dow Jones rose 3.44%, or 779.71 points, to close at 23,433.57
  • S&P 500 increased 3.41%, or 90.57, to close at 2,749.98
  • Nasdaq popped 2.58%, or 203.64 points, to close at 8,090.90

Equities were also buoyed by oil prices and news that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, whose policies fueled concerns about higher taxes, was dropping out of the race.

Transportation saw a bump today. Uber rose 4.66% to close at $26.94. That's still more than 34.7% below this year's high of $41.27, reached in February. Meanwhile, Lyft also saw shares rise 7.78% to close at $29.64. Again, it's the same story as Uber. Lyft's share price is still off — about 45% — from the year-to-date highs. (Uber and Lyft have seesawed this year, first on profit promises, later on cash concerns, and more. It's been an active year so far for ride-hailing companies.)

Among today's leaders were airlines, which have been one of the harder hit industries in this COVID-19 era. United led the pack with a 12.38% bump to close at $27.51, followed by American Airlines and Delta, which rose 109.% and 4.4% respectively. Tesla had a volatile day that ended nearly where it began, with a 0.62% increase to close at $548.84.

Automakers also saw shares rise. GM shares rose 8.59% to close at $23.13, while Ford increased 6.59% to $5.03 and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed up 3.15% to $7.86 a share.

Finally today, the rally touched on a key group of stocks that we track carefully here at TechCrunch, namely SaaS stocks -- the equities associated with modern software companies and cloud-focused firms. The index that we track monitoring the group of companies, the Bessemer cloud index, shot 5.8% higher today, a huge rally. The index is still off from its recent highs, but has recovered along with the broader stock market. If its gains will help startups that are SaaS-based raise more easily is not yet clear, but the index's gains are good news for founders and investors in private software companies.